Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cars, Density and Public Transportation.

Ugh. This article right here is the reason why I'm so pressed on leaving this country.
It's hard to appreciate how truly pitiful our public transportation system is until you spend some time with a system that works.
Oh, there's more to that article--but just go read it. It'll certainly begin to get your blood boiled.

The first half of the article circles around the devastating truth about this nation--the reality that public transportation will almost never be universally accessible. We love our cars, and we're too damn fat to consider taking a hike to work instead of driving our gas-guzzling vehicles to our fat office chairs.

I have preached it for years, and no one likes it. But it's the truth. If we ever want to get Americans out of their cars, we need to raise the entire cost of owning a car. And that begins with raising gas taxes, toll prices, parking fees...raise them all! Few reasonable people drive in a place like Manhattan, and that's because it's frankly faster to use the subway than to try to bother with driving. If we want that same Manhattan-connectedness throughout this country, it'll have to start with making it supremely inconvenient to drive.

Why am I so obsessed with public transportation? For one, it's far more economical. And I don't mean financially--I mean the supply-and-demand of land! Ever consider how much space highways, roads, parking garages and cars take up? My lord it's a huge waste of space. Having people commute to work, social functions, etc., via a collective effort is simply better for the development of cities. It's long-term sustainability.

It is also, clearly, the healthier route to pursue. New Yorkers walk around 5-miles a day, while the average American doesn't even make it to a single mile. And you know what? Americans are freaking huge, they could surely use a 5-mile walk.

Efficiency about public transporation may be in question, because there are many systems in this country that do not run efficiently (COTA bus would be one great example). But as more people ride the transportation systems, the easier they are to become more convenient. The difficulty lies in getting people to push the system to a point where they must expand.

The first bit of the article focuses on the dim future for public transportation in The United States (::angry face::) and the second part reviews American's hatred for high-density neighborhoods (::really angry face::).
David Boyce, an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University, said another key piece of the puzzle is land use. Americans prefer low-density communities and large lots for their homes.

This may be swell from a quality-of-life perspective, but it's an enormous challenge for public transportation, which requires relatively large numbers of people moving from point A to point B on a daily basis to be profitable.


I hate to be cynical, but I simply can't imagine political leaders at the local, state or federal level telling voters that they support a big increase in gas taxes, sky-high parking fees and high-density neighborhoods.

So don't hold your breath for a public transportation system that rivals what our friends abroad enjoy. It's not going to happen -- at least not until a majority of us agree that we're prepared to accept the trade-offs necessary to bring about such a wholesale change in how we live and travel.
Baby Jesus on a cross, do you see why I am love with this article? It's like I wrote it myself! Words right from my own lips!

No one is going to find me holding my breathe for these kinds of developments, and I'm frankly just not committed to this country enough to be part of the movement towards this ideal. This country won't let me serve in our armed forces, won't let me marry the love of my life, won't even give me legal recognition in the majority of the where's the incentive to stay? It's certainly not the crazy gun laws or the lack of access to health care! It's not our impressive education system or the upcoming generation of idiots that this nation is brewing up right now! Hell, I can't even give blood in this friggin' as a clearly unequal citizen of The US, I honestly, from my viewpoint, find almost no reason at all to stay here.

There is plenty wrong with this country and I'll be the first to point it out. But at the same time, I will be here for at least 1-2 more years at the minimum; 5-7 years at the most. So although it's fun and easy to write up a quick rant about the atrocities of this country...perhaps I should make the best of my time? Instead of whining and complaining as the next few years go by, why don't I do my own small part to make things better? That's a far better approach than to relentlessly bitch about how awful it is here.

Sigh...the only problem is it's easier said than done.